“Daimler-1896 to 1946,” by St. John Nixon (Foulis and Co., Ltd., 42s.).
A complete history of the motor industry would be an excellent thing to have, but the mind boggles as to how such a vast task could be attempted, in any worthwhile detail. In writing a history of the Daimler Company St. John Nixon has provided a possible solution, for should other historians follow suit with individual volumes devoted to equally painstaking chronicles of other great concerns, such a history could gradually be built up on the bookshelf— just as Grenville, in publishing the story of the J.C.C. 200-Mile Race, have availed themselves of the opportunity to gradually build up a comprehensive account of motor-racing.
Nixon, in 232 large pages, gives as much history as even avid Daimler adherents could desire of a famous British concern which came into being three and a half years before self-propelled vehicles could be used legally, and without a red flag, on the roads of this country. If some of the early financial, legal and directorial matters associated with the formation of the original Daimler Company are likely to be of interest only to directors and employees, certainly the technical details of Daimler’s earliest products will be of considerable appeal to veteran car enthusiasts. The author does not skip such mechanical matters, and, as his story unfolds, we find details not only of Daimlers, but of such cars as the Critchley-Daimler and the pre-1914 products of the B.S.A. Company, which was afterwards merged with the Daimler Company. The Silent Knight sleeve-valve engine gets a chapter to itself, together with technical drawings, and the various Daimler cars supplied to Royalty, since a 24-h.p. Daimler had been ordered by King Edward in 1901, are adequately dealt with. The only criticism of this section of the book is that. we should have liked to have read of those racing Daimlers to which S.C.H. Davis makes brief reference in “Motor Racing,” in connection with his apprenticeship at the Daimler works, such as the 28-h.p. and 45-h.p. Herkomer Trophy cars “that each week won something for the marque,” and the Kaiser Cup racing 2-seaters.
The book continues with a most interesting outline of subsequent Daimler developments and some very interesting facts come to light, although no mention is made of the B.S.A. small cars of the post-1918 period. The products which played such a prominent part in the war are dealt with in some detail and the book ends with a list of all Daimler models, from the 4 1/2-h.p. two-cylinder car of 1897 to the 5 1/2-litre straight-eight of 1946. It is interesting to find that a 12-h.p. six-cylinder sleeve-valve Daimler was listed in 1923—what a find for a vintage enthusiast ! “Daimler-1896 to 1946” contains some historic and otherwise good photographs, and it is pleasing that several which illustrate early Daimler models are of cars still in good order, and active in V.C.C. competitions of recent times.
Mr. Nixon has done a good job of work. We look forward to his forthcoming history of the Wolseley Company. And we venture to hope that similar accounts of famous firms in the motor industry, by the same author or others, will become available in the future. W. B.